Lagerfeld, Prada -- progress?
Fashion-watchers heard the news, the other day, that Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld banned three models from his runway show for being emaciated:
The pertinent info:
Also, the rest of his models still looked frighteningly underfed.
But even if it's only a PR move, it's a good PR move -- and I want to believe that it's true. If it is, then I hope that the three models whom he (rightly) rejected will now realize that they must stop starving themselves, and will actually begin eating.
And more importantly, I hope Lagerfeld's move prompts other designers to follow his lead -- prefereably in a more substantial way, by increasing the size of their fashions, therefore requiring fuller-figured models.
On the latter note, Prada recently made news by featuring a slightly less emaciated model in one of its shows:
The article optimistically describes the move as follows:
If an entire show were to book models her size or larger, then one could say that some progress had been made.
So while both Lagerfeld's and Prada's moves are commendable, they are still far too little.
But let's hope that this is the leading edge of a more meaningful and substantial change in the industry.
Fashion shows the right way
If Lagerfeld's actions were genuine, they would offer a singular example of a designer doing the right thing, and with the right rationale. However, as you specify, we only have the designer's word that he did this. Who knows if it's true? The models at his shows are still just as emaciated as they always have been. The difference between a model who is 40 pounds underweight and 30 pounds underweight is negligible. Both are still severely malnourished, and both send a poisonous aesthetic message to society.
The same is true in the Prada case. It's like praising a company for making light cigarettes rather than regular cigarettes. Both are carcinogens; both are lethal. A slightly-less-malnourished model is still malnourished, still a toxic influence on young women.
These individuals and companies are simply engaging in utterly insignificant acts of tokenism to deflect scrutiny away from themselves, in the face of growing public pressure. What is needed is independent oversight to make sure that all designers reject models who are emaciated, that the standards of acceptable size/weight are far higher than what they are now, and that the use of genuinely full-figured models is mandated for future shows.
So far, only one designer has used a plus-size model in an aesthetically serious way: Gaultier, when he featured Crystal Renn in his exceptional S/S 2006 show (images here). But this was a one-off affair. To conceive of how runway shows should look, the best example yet offered comes in the form of Curvy Girl Clothing's fall event (linked below), which was recently praised on this forum.
Not all of the girls in the video perform the runway walk equally well, but at least the entire show consists of visible full-figured models, and the lead girl, Shannon, is particularly attractive, with a full, shapely, unconstricted waist.
And now that several of the industry's top plus-size stars (including Christina Schmidt and Barbara Brickner) have demonstrated their catwalk prowess in their agency video clips, it's easy to imagine a whole runway show consisting of the most popular girls in the industry prowling the catwalk in attractive, feminine fashions.
They would be able to promote whatever styles designers would concoct for them just as well as the straight-size models would, and in the process, would foster positive body image among women rather than self-loathing.
And on top of that, the shows themselves would become visual delights.
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